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Tuesday, October 14, 2014
Impact of Online Higher Education - 'Going' (But Not Going) to College
How do you tell high school students they’re going to attend -- but not actually go to -- college?
It’s a conversation the University of Florida is having with potential students, parents and school counselors about UF Online, the institution’s degree-granting online arm. Now facing its first full academic year, UF Online is hitting its course development and enrollment targets, but it has so far attracted few first-time-in-college (FTIC) students.
UF Online launched in January with 583 students -- all of them transferring in. In March, university officials said they hoped to enroll 750 to 1,000 students by the fall semester, including 100 to 150 high school graduates starting as freshmen.
“We have not met that expectation,” said W. Andrew (Andy) McCollough, associate provost for teaching and technology at UF. “We have only recruited first-time-in-college students for the first time this fall, and we have a total of 22 out of a class of right about a thousand.”
McCollough, who has served as the interim executive director of UF Online since Elizabeth D. (Betty) Phillips’s sudden resignationtwo months after launch, said time constraints are largely to blame for the low number of first-time-in-college students. Ideally, the university should have marketed to those students last fall, but the institution was then racing to meet its legislature-imposed deadline to launch in January.
“I think a fairer test of the robustness of a fully comprehensive four-year baccalaureate degree for first-time-in-college students would be this time next year, because we are only now getting the opportunity to talk to next year’s class,” McCollough said. “We didn’t really crank [the marketing efforts] up until after applications were due for entry into the university for this fall. We’re up and running this time, and we’ve got not only the digital conversation that Pearson is assisting us with ... we’re also having feet on the ground with our enrollment management people.”
The delayed timeline for recruiting high school students at least means UF Online will have more time to develop the course and degree offerings it hopes will make it competitive. McCollough counted 10 majors (the website lists nine) and more than 130 courses in the fall lineup, saying the university will continue to add five new majors each year.
“I think we’ll be very close at the end of three years to 20 majors,” McCollough said. “One of the things that’s clear to us -- and should come as no surprise to us -- is as we talk to both transfer students and FTICs, we need to have a robust array of major opportunities to be attractive to these possible students.” Read More . . . . . . . . . . .